Celebrating Self-Care Awareness Month with Joy Mental Fitness in Jersey City 

Nurturing the Soul: The Therapist’s Perspective on Self-Care with Mi Cao


Do you find yourself constantly putting the needs of others before your own? Are the demands of daily life leaving you feeling drained and overwhelmed? Have you ever wondered why self-care often takes a backseat in our busy lives, and what it truly means to prioritize it?  

In this Self-Care Awareness Month, as a therapist working in the field for over a decade, I invite you to unravel the truth of self-care. 


Fact 1: Self-care is not being selfish

When talking about self-care in therapy sessions, many clients would worry that they became selfish when they started to self-care. However, self-care does not equate to selfishness. 

While selfishness is characterized by an excessive focus on one’s own needs at the expense of others, self-care is a practice that acknowledges the importance of tending to your own well-being to be better equipped to care for others and engage in healthy relationships. 

Self-care is about finding a balance between personal needs and the needs of those around you. It’s a vital practice that promotes physical, emotional, and mental health, ultimately benefiting not only yourself but also the people you interact with. 

In essence, self-care is an act of self-compassion that enhances your capacity to show compassion to others.


Fact 2: Self-care is not a luxury

Self-care is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. It’s the cornerstone of emotional and mental resilience.

Self-care activities are a commonly discussed topic in therapy sessions because amidst the complexities of mental health challenges like anxiety, depression, trauma, and ADHD, self-care emerges as a beacon of hope and healing.

Self-Care and Anxiety 

Anxiety, often characterized by persistent worry and unease, can cast a shadow over daily life. Self-care, however, has the power to cast light upon the darkness. Engaging in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can help manage anxious thoughts and promote a sense of calm. These practices signal to the body’s stress response system that it’s safe, effectively reducing anxiety’s grip.

Self-Care and Depression 

Depression, a complex and debilitating mental health condition, can leave individuals feeling trapped in a cycle of despair. Self-care, though not a panacea, can offer a lifeline. Engaging in physical activities, even a short walk outdoors, can stimulate the release of endorphins, the brain’s natural mood lifters. Additionally, practicing self-compassion through positive self-talk and embracing small achievements can counteract the negative self-perception often associated with depression.

Self-Care and Trauma

Trauma leaves imprints that linger long after the event has passed. Self-care acts as a balm for these wounds, guiding individuals on a path toward healing. Mindfulness practices, such as grounding exercises, help to anchor individuals in the present moment, alleviating the distressing effects of trauma flashbacks. Moreover, seeking professional support (therapy) can foster a sense of control and empowerment, crucial elements in the journey of healing from trauma.

Self-Care and ADHD 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) challenges individuals to maintain focus and manage impulses. Self-care strategies tailored to the needs of individuals with ADHD can work wonders. Structured routines and organization techniques, like creating to-do lists or using color-coded calendars, can help manage daily tasks. Engaging in physical activities that require coordination and rhythm, such as dancing or sports, can harness excess energy and enhance focus.


Fact 3: Self-care can be easy

Self-care can be easy. We can build self-care activities into our daily routine. Here is a list of activities therapists often recommend:

Prioritize Sleep: Quality sleep is the cornerstone of good health. Create a soothing bedtime routine, ensure a comfortable sleep environment, and aim for 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night.

Nourish Yourself: Fuel your body with balanced and nutritious meals. Eating mindfully can have a positive impact on your energy levels and overall health.

Move Your Body: Regular exercise not only keeps you physically fit but also releases endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones. Find an activity you enjoy, whether it’s yoga, jogging, dancing, or hiking.

Practice Mindfulness: Dedicate time each day to mindfulness practices like meditation, deep breathing, or journaling. These practices promote self-awareness and reduce stress.

Set Boundaries: Learn to say no when necessary and establish healthy boundaries to prevent feelings of overwhelm.

Engage in Activities You Love: Whether it’s painting, playing an instrument, gardening, or cooking, spending time doing things you’re passionate about can be incredibly rejuvenating.

Connect Socially: Nurture your relationships by spending time with loved ones. Social connections are essential for emotional well-being.


In the grand tapestry of life, self-care isn’t a self-indulgent extravagance; it’s a fundamental thread that weaves together our well-being, resilience, and capacity to care for others. Remember, self-care is not selfish; it’s an act of self-preservation that fortifies us to be better partners, parents, friends, and professionals. It’s not a luxury reserved for a select few; it’s a universal right that empowers us to lead healthier, more balanced lives. And, above all, self-care can indeed be easy. It doesn’t always require grand gestures; sometimes, it’s found in the simplest moments of self-compassion. So, embrace self-care as a daily practice, nurture your soul, and watch as it brightens not only your life but the lives of those around you. Your well-being matters, and by making self-care a priority, you’re taking a vital step towards a happier, more fulfilling tomorrow.

This article is written by Ms. Mi Cao, Clinical Director of Joy Mental Fitness (www.joymental.com). Joy Mental Fitness is proud to provide mental health counseling services to residents of Jersey City and across the state of New Jersey.


Mi Cao
Author: Mi Cao